Different Learners : Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Your Child's Learning Problems
by Jane M. Healy

Overview - ""My child is having trouble in school.
What should I do?"
"When parents are told that their child is having difficulty in school, they often don't know where to turn for reliable information and advice. They may be confused by conflicting claims of "cures" or may mistakenly think that, because some learning problems are genetically based, they can do nothing to help.

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More About Different Learners by Jane M. Healy
""My child is having trouble in school.
What should I do?"
"When parents are told that their child is having difficulty in school, they often don't know where to turn for reliable information and advice. They may be confused by conflicting claims of "cures" or may mistakenly think that, because some learning problems are genetically based, they can do nothing to help. Even the terminology of learning disorders is confusing: dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD, ADHD, autism, Asperger's syndrome, NVLD, executive function disorder--what are all these conditions, how do they differ from one another and, most important, what practical steps should parents and teachers take to remedy the situation?
This comprehensive, practical guide to children's learning problems should be the first resource parents and teachers reach for when a child shows signs of difficulty in academic, social, or behavioral learning. Drawing on her decades of experience, educator Jane Healy offers understandable explanations of the various types of learning disorders. She distills the latest scientific research on brains, genes, and learning as she explains how to identify problems--even before they are diagnosed--and how to take appropriate remedial action at home, at school, and in the community.
Today's fast-paced, stressed-out culture is hazardous to growing minds, says Healy, and a growing "epidemic" of children's disorders is the result. "Different Learners "offers a complete program not only for treating the child, but also for making more beneficial lifestyle choices at home and improving teaching techniques at school. It shows parents and caregivers how to prevent some learning difficulties from ever happening in the first place. It explains how to have your child evaluated if necessary, and, if a problem is found, how to evaluate various treatments. "Different Learners "explains how medications for attention and learning work in the brain and why they should not be the first step in most treatment programs. It shows how schools can actually worsen a child's learning difficulties and how to make sure this doesn't happen to your child. It even offers a program for "brain-cleaning" that will help any child perform better in school.
Jane Healy draws on stories of real children to offer sympathetic as well as practical advice for children--and parents--who are struggling in an overstressed environment. She provides reassurance that parents and teachers can have dramatically positive effects on every child's ability to learn.

  • ISBN-13: 9781416556411
  • ISBN-10: 1416556419
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: April 2010
  • Page Count: 402

Related Categories

Books > Education > Special Education - Learning Disabilities
Books > Education > Parent Participation

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 47.
  • Review Date: 2010-03-01
  • Reviewer: Staff

From educational psychologist Healey (Your Child's Growing Mind) comes a parents' guide to learning disorders and the positive steps to avoid or reverse problems accompanying a child's diagnosis. Defining a learning problem as “any innate or acquired characteristic that consistently interferes with one or more aspects of learning,” Healey explains that the way a brain is “wired” accounts for disorders in language arts and math, social and personal organizational skills, and motor and sensory abilities. Whether a development problem becomes a disability (and if medication is appropriate) depends on its severity and expectations made of a child at a given age. Healey provides a very hands-on guide with anecdotal case studies, the latest brain science research data made comprehensible, and plenty of bulleted checklists covering symptoms, action steps, and advice. The first part focuses on the problems and possibilities for “dys-sed” kids; the second part presents the scientific how-and-why of juvenile brain function, the role of genetics, and intelligence and learning styles; the third offers proven techniques and remedies for destressing kids and their environments by limiting distracting or disruptive lifestyle factors. Every chapter features plenty of subheads and pullout questions or quotes, which make the pages visually accessible and help sustain interest in what could be an overwhelming topic. This is a ready reference parents will welcome. (Apr.)

BookPage Reviews

Building skills for life

At the start of the 21st century, parents are understandably worried about how to help children navigate a world characterized by economic uncertainty and academic pressure, cyber-distractions and omnipresent media. These books offer advice for every stage of the parenting journey.

In recent years, scientists and psychologists have gained dramatic new insights into the brains and behavior of babies and young children. Among other things, they have discovered that babies are aware of language, numbers and feelings at just a few months old, and that the executive functions of the brain, which help us organize our lives and behavior, are critical to achievement. Ellen Galinsky draws upon these insights in Mind in the Making, an overview of the seven “learning skills”—like “Focus and Self Control” and “Critical Thinking”—that, she argues, help children succeed in life.

Galinsky references her own experiences, brief parenting anecdotes and the research and opinions of experts as she first details the importance of each “essential life skill” and then provides suggestions for how parents can stimulate that skill. The suggestions are as specific as games to play and questions to ask, and as broad as reducing parental stress. While Mind in the Making offers much food for thought, its breadth can be overwhelming; just trying to follow the 19 suggestions for promoting focus could drive a parent to distraction.


Like Galinsky, Jane Healy focuses on the brain; while Galinsky addresses the basic skills that underlie success in all aspects of life, Healy—an educational psychologist, teacher and brain expert—specifically tackles learning problems, and her approach is both more focused and more comprehensive. In Different Learners, she makes a persuasive case for attending carefully to both genetic and environmental causes of learning problems.

While learning problems often originate in the brain, Healy argues that they can be dramatically exacerbated by a child’s “home, school, community, and culture.” Carefully laying out the workings of the brain, along with the causes and consequences of different kinds of learning issues, she argues that paying close attention to a child’s specific needs and making changes in their environment and behavior can make medication unnecessary.

Healy is persuasive, thoughtful and, above all, sympathetic to the challenges and fears parents face, providing many useful tips and strategies for how they can help their children.


In Girls on the Edge, Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift, now turns his attention to the opposite sex. Sax believes that contemporary culture, with its focus on appearance and performing for others, is preventing girls from developing an “authentic sense of self.” In the first part of the book, he targets early sexualization, the Internet and environmental toxins as primary causes of this absence, and obsessions (from anorexia and alcohol abuse to perfectionism) as one of its signal manifestations.

Sax, a strong public advocate for single-sex education, believes that boys and girls are innately different and should be taught and coached in different ways. In the book’s second half, he outlines some of these differences and offers advice on how to help girls flourish.

Some of Sax’s suggestions are common sense: limiting and supervising computer time, making sure your daughter gets enough sleep, being a “Just Right” parent (“firm but not rigid, loving but not permissive”) instead of “Too Hard” or “Too Soft.” His focus on gender difference and single-sex environments may be more controversial, but will ring true for some parents.


While Sax takes a big-picture look at today’s teenage girls, in My Teenage Werewolf, author and mom Lauren Kessler focuses on one girl: her preteen daughter, Lizzie, with whom she increasingly finds herself “completely immersed in mutual hostility.” Seeking to understand Lizzie, and to prevent the semi-estrangement that characterized her post-adolescent relationship with her own mother, Kessler sets out to explore the world of contemporary teenagers.

She begins with research, learning about strategies for communicating with teens, the hormonal and brain changes that make teenagers so erratic and impulsive, and the stresses they face today. She joins Lizzie at school, camp and wrestling practice, becoming a “cultural anthropologist” of “the world of the twenty-first-century teen girl.”

In the two years she spends immersed in Lizzie’s life, Kessler discovers that her daughter is not a raging, sulking beast determined to make her mother’s life miserable, but a strong, thoughtful individual. Acknowledging Lizzie’s autonomy, and letting go of her own need to control her daughter, Kessler finds her way to the mother-daughter relationship she seeks—a relationship that was really there all along.

BAM Customer Reviews